Members of a female community running group took part in a virtual 10k run on Sunday 12th September to encourage women to get back into healthy exercise habits post-lockdown.
The group, which is called Black Girls Do Run UK, was set up in 2019 by founder Tasha Thompson to inspire black women to run for their health, fitness and mental wellbeing.
The Lucozade Sport Virtual 10K run that they took part in was unique for having runners complete the challenge in pairs, something which is scientifically proven to motivate women to run further, more often and for longer.
The worldwide event was held in support of the charity Women in Sport, and was backed by celebrities such as Steph Houghton OBE, England Women’s Football captain and Serena Guthrie MBE, England Netball captain.
Two members of the Black Girls Do Run group, Annie Simpson, 44, and Annie Kennedy, 42, were running partners when they completed the virtual run last Sunday.
Simpson said: “The whole ethos behind the run is something that is really pertinent to us.”
Simpson, a Deputy Headteacher, and Kennedy, a Project Manager, met through Black Girls Do Run UK and quickly became friends through their passion for running and shared name and neighbourhood of Bromley.
Both of them praised the supportive community of women that has grown from Black Girls Do Run, and how running with the group has had a profound positive impact on their physical and mental health.
Kennedy said: “Being part of a community fulfils every part of running for me.”
They are currently preparing to run the Virtual Virgin Money London Marathon on the 3rd October and have planned their route around south London, going through areas such as Crystal Palace, Beckenham and Bromley.
Simpson said: “I am so in awe of how we are able to push boundaries and not limit ourselves.
“This is what is so phenomenal because we are just constantly progressing, moving forward collectively, and we’re celebrating each other’s wins.”
Khadijatou Doyneh, a dancer and singer/songwriter from Peckham, also undertook the virtual 10k.
After injuring her leg in a car accident in 2017, Doyneh has used running as a way to build up her physical strength and stamina so that she can dance and perform again.
She said: “It was becoming depressing because I was watching my body go, and I don’t want it to go.
“I was thinking about how I would save my own life.”
She found the Black Girls Do Run group through a friend’s Instagram post and was welcomed with open arms when she joined their WhatsApp group.
The runners regularly post their runtimes in the group chat with people congratulating each other on their progress.
Doyneh said: “I see it as encouragement; it is never competition.
“The only person you’re competing with is yourself.”
Sport England’s latest Active Lives report shows that only 48.5% of black women are meeting the recommended activity guidelines compared to 60% of all women and 59.6% of black men.
Black Girls Do Run UK is aiming to improve these numbers by providing a welcoming community committed to promoting diversity within running at every level.
To learn more about Black Girls Do Run UK, visit their Instagram page.
Featured image credit: Serena Brown